‘Aiming for the moon’

Developing a landmark aviation exhibit for DeWitt County

Gordon Woods
Posted 3/2/22

Developing a landmark aviation exhibit for DeWitt County

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‘Aiming for the moon’

Developing a landmark aviation exhibit for DeWitt County


"We’ve been working for months to put together the little bits and pieces,” said photographer, designer and author Denis Hambucken about work on the upcoming Prairie Flyers exhibit. 

A friend of Clinton native John Warner, Hambucken, Warner, DeWitt County Museum manager Joey Long and writer Edith Brady-Lunny have been busy pulling together those bits.

They worked last week in a “staging area” in the Dorothy Warner Building, fitting out mannequins that will display various uniforms and gear worn by former DeWitt County aviators, military and civilian, for the exhibit scheduled for June.

While items to assemble a single uniform display often do not come from the same source, Warner pointed out the flight gear of a World War II flyer was nearly all used by the same person.

“That was pretty much all one guys’ stuff that he has loaned to us,” Warner said.

Only the dog tags, knife and boots were not his.

“In some cases, there are none left from the actual person,” Hambucken said about artifacts used in the exhibit.  “So, we’re rebuilding them to the best of our ability.”

Most World War II veterans are now gone, Hambucken said.  This often results in multiple artifacts belonging to a single person being split up among several members of a family or donated to historical societies or museums.

One uniform in the exhibit belong to the father of retired Warner Library director Joan Rhoades.

“There’s an example where a family has pretty much everything,” Warner said.

The flight gear of local pilot Donna Groves also will be featured in the exhibit

“She worked in Ray Moss’s law office,” Warner said.  “I was learning to fly the biplane (at the locally well-known Hooterville Airport).”

Groves, who lived in the area with her husband, had seen Warner practicing and stopped in where he was working at the bank.

“I stopped and watched your landings,” Groves told him.  “If you’ll slow your approach and pitch the nose up a little more when you touch down, your landings are going to be a lot better.”

“I realized, ‘you know what you’re talking about’,” Warner said he thought. 

Groves had been a WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots) during World War II.

• See the complete story in the Friday, Mar. 4, print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition for subscribers.


Financial support

Monetary donations from the public to help fund this special effort would be gratefully accepted.  Anyone interested in donating may contact Joey Long at the C.H. Moore Homestead & DeWitt County Museum at (217) 935-6066, chmoore.homestead@gmail.com., 219 E. Woodlawn Street, Clinton, IL 61727.